ENMU confirms two swine flu cases

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Two cases of H1N1 flu have been confirmed at Eastern New Mexico University.

ENMU President Steven Gamble said the confirmation came Friday, and parents of the students — both of whom were from out of town — took them home.

“If they can go home and recover there, we think that’s better for everybody,” he said.

Gamble and Vice President of Student Affairs Judith Haislett didn’t know of any other suspected H1N1 cases on campus or if the two sick students had any connections.

The H1N1 cases were announced on the home page of the university’s Web site and in a mass e-mail to faculty and students.

“So we’ve done what we could do to make our students and faculty and staff aware,” Gamble said. “But we expect business as usual at the institution.”

He said the university is following the advice of state and federal health experts to avoid closing doors because of H1N1.

Haislett said staff would keep making information available and the two campus nurses were working very hard. She hopes to hire a third nurse because health services is short-staffed even without the flu situation.

“I think we’re doing everything we can at this point, telling people, ‘Don’t panic, but come on in and get help,’” Haislett said, adding the medicine Tamiflu can provide relief from symptoms.

ENMU will offer H1N1 and seasonal flu shots free to students once the vaccines become available, which should help, she said.

Vaccines are expected to be ready in October.

Gamble said the university also has an isolation unit on the second floor of Chavez Hall in case sick students can’t go home.

H1N1, also known as swine flu, came into the national spotlight after sickening and killing people earlier this year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control Web site, symptoms are fever, coughing, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue, and a significant number of people report vomiting and diarrhea.

To prevent the spread, experts recommend washing hands or using hand sanitizer often, staying home when they’re sick, and sneeze or cough into a tissue and then throw it away.